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Federer upset in opening round

Roger Federer was upset by Tommy Haas at an Australian Open tuneup tournament, although the loss won't blotch his ATP record.

tennis Updated: Jan 11, 2006 11:00 IST

Roger Federer was upset by Tommy Haas at an Australian Open tuneup tournament on Wednesday, although the loss won't blotch his ATP record and he was just happy to get through unscathed.

Haas, ranked No 41, fended off three breakpoints while serving for the match and closed a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win with an ace in the opening match of the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament. Federer said on the eve of the Kooyong event that he was 100 percent healthy and had no concerns that the ankle problem that curtailed his last season would flare up before the Australian Open, which starts Monday.

But he mis-hit forehands and backhands against Haas and didn't look in the sort of supreme form that earned him an 81-4 record and 11 titles last season.

Federer hit 39 unforced errors, to 30 for Haas, and produced only two of his 15 winners on the backhand.

Apart from a heavy brace on his right ankle, Federer showed no other signs of the problem.

"With all the injuries in men's tennis, I'm just happy to be standing," Federer said after the match. "I'm happy I arrived OK and played through the match without any pain."

Defending Australian Open champion Marat Safin and French Open winner Rafael Nadal withdrew from next week's Open on Tuesday night, joining four-time champion Andre Agassi on the sidelines for the first Grand Slam of the year.

Former Australian Open winner Thomas Johannson was also questionable -- he has a right shoulder injury and withdrew from the Sydney International this week.

Federer, who took time off after losing to David Nalbandian in the season-ending Masters Cup at Shanghai in November, said Wednesday's loss to Haas would not be a setback to his Australian Open plans.

He defended his title at Doha last week to start the season, beating Haas 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals.

Haas said he would have been happier to beat Federer last week, "but any time you beat the No. 1 it's a good feeling. Haas advanced to the winners group here while Federer goes into the relegation group. All eight players at Kooyong are guaranteed three matches in the tournament.

In other opening matches, Andy Roddick is against Gael Monfils of France, Ivan Ljubicic takes on Guillermo Coria of Argentina, and Nalbandian faces Nicolas Kiefer.

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 11:00 IST